A hundred horses showed up on the arena in Verona, Italy to compete in the European Championships (28-29.10). The show was part of a huge event whose tradition dates back to 1898 and has been taking place under the name of Fieracavalli. This year over four days it gathered more than 3 thousand horses of 60 breeds, from Fresians to Akhal-Teke horses. The public cheered on not only the Arabian horses that competed for the titles of European Champions, but also all others. It was not easy to push through the crowds of people and horses, which flowed as though in Medieval times from one place to another via narrow passageways between the exhibition halls. According to the organizers more than 160 thousand tickets were sold to visitors from 63 countries.
Unfortunately the crowds and tightness took a toll on all participants of the European Arabian Horse Championships. The arena that was allotted to Arabian horses was this time not very large – there was not enough room for the usual decorations from “Aida”, a characteristic element of the shows in years past. The VIP tables were pushed together so much that the guests literally had difficulty in breathing. The Polish exhibitors, which brought with them one fifth of the presented horses (21) immediately pointed to the lack of Polish flag among all the others hung over the arena. After intervening with the organizers the Polish flag was hung on the second day on the band surrounding the arena. Finally it found its way near the tables occupied by Polish participants.
However this slight diplomatic incident did not disturb the celebratory atmosphere of the show. Because it is the horses that are most important and these did not disappoint. Supporters of Polish breeding had their hands full, because apart from Polish-owned horses there were also several born in Poland and sold abroad. The classes counted from 12 participants (7-9 year old mares) to just 2 (10 year old and older stallions). It has to be said in times when everyone is complaining about the number of horses at shows that Verona did more than well (mainly thanks to Polish exhibitors): 101 horses in the arena, not counting the Futurity class, is a very decent result. The show was judged by: Sylvie Eberhardt (Germany), Tom Husebye (Norway), Al Shaarawi (Egypt), Marco Pittaluga (Italy), Gideon Reisel (Holland) and Josy Everars (Belgium).
The celebrations would be even more joyful for enthusiasts of Polish breeding if not for the disappointment that hit us in the finals when it was not Pustynia Kahila that won the gold, but a mare that was fourth in class behind her. If the Michałów-bred had performed poorly in the finals, then we could talk about ill luck or about the horse being indisposed, but it was the opposite – in the hands of Piotr Dwojak, who also gave his all, Pustynia Kahila proved that she is a mare of the highest world quality. Therefore the disappointment was huge and questions began floating around, asking: how could this be? What did the several judges that did not give her even a Top Five title see (or not see) in this horse? Unfortunately we do not know the answer to this. And though a silver medal at the European Championships is nothing to be ashamed of, the silence that fell after the verdict had been announced proves that it were not only Polish fans that felt unsatisfied and longing for more.
The produce of one dam sets the tone
Among the yearlings of series A (9 participants) Poland was represented by Michałów’s Frazza (Vitorio TO – Foggia/Gazal Al Shaqab), who managed to enter the top five with a score of 444 pts. Victorious was the chestnut owner of an exotic head, DA Ariyana (EKS Alihandro – DA Miss Justice/WH Justice) from the Austrian Stud of Cornelia Kolnberger, Diamond Arabians (454 pts); her full sister, the grey DA Alihandra, a while later won the 2 year old fillies class (6 participants) with a score of 460 pts, including 5×20. Both fillies fought later for the highest honor in the finals – with a great result, as the 2 year old won the gold (almost unanimously) and the yearling took the bronze. Apparently Ms. Kolnberger has discovered another “golden cross”. But back to the yearlings. DA Ariyana felt the breath of a daughter of Pogrom and Wróżka by Ganges, the bay Wadelia, bred and owned by Lutetia Arabians (France) of Ms. Helene Zaleski. The filly received the same amount of points as the winner of the class. The rivals were silenced in the finals by AJ Norah (AJ Mardan – Inspired Najla/Ajman Moniscione) from Ajman Stud, daughter of the silver medallist from Nowe Wrońska in 2016. First she bested (only slightly, as both fillies received 459 pts) the second in yearlings class series B Nemesi Regalis (SA Faez Simbad – Nashira by Chawy Na/Lucky Dream), bred and owned by Pietro Re (Italy) and later took the gold. The Polish contestants in this class, Gaja Eunika (Kanz Albidayer – Gaja Selene/Emigrant) and Psyche Ofelia (Echo Adonis – Psyche Kreuza/Ekstern) from Chrcynno-Palace, as well as Michałów’s Emdrona (Medalion – Elgora/Poganin) placed at sixth (450), third (454) and fourth place (454), respectively.
Another AJ Mardan offspring that made itself seen in Verona, apart from AJ Norah, was the winner of the yearling colts series A class (6 competitors), AJ Radman (out of AJ Rahifa/Ajman Moniscione, 458 pts). The B series was won by Emperor K.A. (QR Marc – Exposita K.A/QR Marc, 452,5) from Knocke Arabians (Belgium). In the finals the representative of Ajman received the gold and the charge of Paul Gheysens took the bronze. The silver went to the second in class (457) son of Exacalibur EA and Mississipi J by QR Marc, the colt Madagaskar J, bred by Christine Jamar and owned by Al Asool Stud (Saudi Arabia).
In the 2 year old fillies class the Polish Emanolla (Vitorio TO – Emandoria/Gazal Al Shaqab) and Pamina (Pogrom – Pianissima/Gazal Al Shaqab) had to face the above mentioned graduate of Cornelia Kolnberger and as a result Michałów’s representative placed second with a score of 455,5 and Janów’s – fifth (450,5). In the finals Emanolla was fifth, right behind Janów’s Bambina (Kahil Al Shaqab – Bellisa/Poganin), who in her class placed second with a “20” for type and another top mark for movement (457,5). This class also saw Falborek’s Wasalia (EKS Alihandro – Wasa/WH Justice), but despite two “20s” for movement (452) she did not make it into the top five. It was this class that showcased the later medallists in the junior mare category: silver and bronze: Obayana K.A. (Espressivo – Odalis de Nautiac/WH Justice, 459, including 3×20 for movement), born at Knocke Arabians, owned by Cristiano Vito (Italy) and Melody J (Emerald J – Maya J/Extreme, 457), bred by Jadem Arabians, owned by Al Jassimya Farm (Qatar).
Performing among the 2 year old colts (7 participants) was the Polish El Shaad (FA El Shawan – El Estrada/Justify) owned by Małgorzata and Józef Pietrzak. He placed fourth (451) and the class was won by another good looking produce of the mare Inspired Najla, Cyclone OS (by RFI Farid), bred and owned by Gestüt Osterhof. The Poles awaited the 3 year old colts class with great interest (11 horses – a crowd on a small arena!) where four sons of Shanghai EA would compete against each other. The greatest chances appeared to be with the highly decorated rivals: the Polish-born (bred by Jan Dobrzyński, owned by Sami Ben Saad) Fuerte (out of Frymuszka by Ekstern) and the French-bred Wortex Kalliste (outof Marwanah Kalliste/Marwan Al Shaqab), currently in the hands of Shgair Stud (Saudi Arabia). Fuerte, who had not lost for a long time, gained 461,5 pts with two “20s” for type. It was a very high result, but not enough to beat Wortex, who received 2×20 for type, 2×20 for head and neck and a final score of 462. The third of Shanghai’s sons, the Spanish Izan Al Cape (out of Wioletta EA/IM Bayard Cathare) from Al Cape Arabians, placed fourth (453,5), while Zeus EA became lame and did not compete. The owned by PPH Parys Petrarca (Kahil Al Shaqab – Poezja/Enzo) was eighth. Wortex (gold), Fuerte (silver) and Cyclone OS (bronze) were finally seen on the podium.
Summing up the junior classes it must be noted that two dams, although mares not hens, turned out to “lay golden eggs”: DA Miss Justice and Inspired Najla. Each of them can boast two class winners (and further medallists!) among strong competition.
Pustynia Kahila and Ekspulsja with the highest score of the day
The senior mare classes usually bring satisfaction to Polish fans. It was no different in Verona. The 4-6 year old mares class (12 participants) promised to be thrilling from the very beginning – and it was! And not only thanks to Pustynia Kahila (Kahil Al Shaqab – Pustynna Malwa/Ekstern) who with three “20s” for type and four for movement set the record score of the day: 467 pts (average 93,4). Apart from her we also saw the well known Aja Europa (Aja Justified – HB Marais/Marwan Al Shaqab) from the stud of the Hickford family, owned by the Royal Cavalry of Oman and the multi medallist DA Magic Moment (WH Justice – DA Enfidha/DA Esstaan), to name the foreign contestants. There were also plenty of Polish ones: Adyga (Kahil Al Shaqab – Amiga/Piaff) from Halsdon Arabians, Ballena (Kahil Al Shaqab – Belgica/Gazal Al Shaqab) from Sinus Arabian Stud (Sweden), Michałów’s Emandorissa (Abha Qatar – Emanda/Ecaho) and Janów’s Potentilla (Ekstern – Panonia/Eukaliptus) and Euzona (OM El Bellissimo – Euzetia/Etogram). And additionally El Medisa (Shanghai EA – Emfonia/Galba) bred by Michałów Stud, owned by Czesław Gołaszewski.
Absolutely unrivaled was Pustynia Kahila, not only in the eyes of the judges but also the public, who welcomed her with a true ovation. Second placed Aja Europa (461), winning with Emandorissa by type. Fourth placed Nesj El Markhisa (Marwan Al Shaqab – Nesj El Khisaya/Khidar), bred by the wife of one of the judges, Josy Everars (who did not judge this class due to conflict of interest) and owned by Al Khair Arabians (Jordan) with a score of 460,5 (incl. 3×20 for type and 3×20 for head and neck, but with lesser marks for movement). DA Magic Moment was fifth, Potentilla – with a whole set of top marks for movement – sixth. This feat (“20s” from all judges for movement) was managed later only by Altamira, who performed in the oldest mares class.
The 4-6 year old mares class was a Polish triumph, because finally our representative won a class, furthermore among such numerous and strong competition. The first four horses qualified for the finals. Could anyone anticipate at the time that Nesj El Markhisa would take the gold away from Pustynia Kahila? Who could suspect that any of the judges would completely omit Pustynia in the finals? There were no such indications at the time.
In the 7-9 year old mares class (7 participants) Poland ruled again thanks to Janów’s Pilarosa (Al Adeed Al Shaqab – Pilar/Fawor) – 460,5, incl. 2×20 for type and a “20” for head and neck. The owned by Suweco Stud (Czech Republic) Berenika (Eden C – Belgica/Gazal Al Shaqab), bred by Janów Podlaski, was sixth. And finally the class of 10 year old mares and above – all greys (an unusual sight today!), feminine, providing an extraordinary aesthetical experience. The winner was Ekspulsja (Gazal Al Shaqab – Elandra/Monogramm), born in Michałów and owned by Halsdon Arabians, a medallist from Aachen, who also this time acquired high marks: 467 pts (the same as Pustynia Kahila), incl. 3×20 for type, 2×20 for head and neck and 2×20 for movement; before the highest sold Polish mare in history – the born in Janów Pepita (Ekstern – Pepesza/Eukaliptus, 466,5, incl. 4×20 for type, “20” for head and neck and 3×20 for movement), owned by Ali Fali Stud (Saudi Arabia) and the afore mentioned Altamira (Ekstern – Altona/Eukaliptus), owned by Halsdon Arabians (462, incl. a “20” for type and 5×20 for movement). Michałów’s broodmatron Emmona (Monogramm – Emilda/Pamir) placed sixth (457,5, incl. a “20” for type).
The senior stallions presented themselves on Sunday morning. There was one decisive favorite among the nine stallions aged 4-6 years old – Excalibur EA (Shanghai EA – Essence of Marwan EA/Marwan Al Shaqab), bred by Equus Arabians, Spain and owned by Al Saqran Stud (Kuwait). And it was him that was the winner with a score of 468,5, besting the result of Pustynia Kahila and Ekspulsja from the day before! Excalibur’s result consisted of four “20s” for type, three more for head and neck and two more for movement. The second in class Equiborn KA (QR Marc – Espadrilla/Monogramm) from Knocke Arabians received 461 pts. Right behind him (just half a point less) was Chrcynno-Palace’s Psyche Keret (Khidar – Psyche Victoria/Ekstern) with four “20s” for movement (460,5). Morion (Kahil Al Shaqab – Mesalina/Ekstern), leased from Michałów by the Qatari Al Thumama Stud, was just fifth (458), while Złoty Medal (QR Marc – Złota Orda/Pesal) was seventh, but his “20” for movement was completely deserved (457). Złoty Medal, although not having qualified for the final, gained huge recognition among the public. The next class, stallions aged 7-9 years old, was won by the used in Białka Lawrence El Gazal (Gazal Al Shaqab – Lara El Ludjin/Ludjin El Jamaal), bred and owned by La Movida Arabians. The last class had only two competitors, out of which Michałów’s Kabsztad (Poganin – Kwestura/Monogramm) proved the better with 459,5 pts. It is worth mentioning that in August he gained a bronze medal at the European Arabian Sport Championships.
Disappointment in the finals. Where are Arabian horse shows heading
An open championship where the “fun starts all over again” is always connected with an uncertainty towards judges’ verdicts, however the medals are usually awarded to horses with the highest scores in classes. Unexpected victories of horses from fourth or fifth spots in class are rare – because the high score in class reflects the quality of the horse. It seemed that Pustynia Kahila could only be threatened by Ekspulsja or perhaps Pepita, who is followed by the fame of a record price. But that she would be outdone by a mare from fourth spot – that’s something that no one foresaw, especially since in the finals Pustynia and Piotr Dwojak delivered a true “show”. However judges Marco Pittaluga (Italy) and Ali Shaarawi (Egypt) decided that she not only did not deserve to stand on the podium, but even receive a title of Top Five! This final was judged by a reduced group – judge Josy Everars was excluded. And so Pustynia Kahila got the silver, and Nesj El Markhisa the gold. The podium was completed with Ekspulsja who with the bronze medal repeated her result from Aachen; and there was also a Top Five for Pepita.
“The degree of unpredictability at foreign shows in the Arabian breed decisively surpasses all others that I have seen so far”, says the President of Michałów Stud, Maciej Grzechnik. “Very telling were the whistles of disapproval heard from the audience when the verdict was announced.” He further adds: “The repeating incomprehensible verdicts in my opinion distort the work of breeders and lead the breeding of Arabian horses worldwide astray.” The President of the Polish Arabian Horse Breeders Association, Krzysztof Poszepczyński, believes that it was the judging system that failed. “The concept that was the basis for open championships has over time become distorted”, he explains. “If a horse from fourth spot wins with a horse from first spot then something is not right. This kills breeding, because we don’t know how to understand the decisions of judges made during the class rivalry and then later in the finals, since these decisions contradict themselves. This also diminishes the importance of ECAHO as an organization associating national representatives of breeders, which recommends officials for shows, including judges for Title shows.”
In the junior mare championship Top Five titles were awarded to Bambina and Emanolla.
In the senior male category Excalibur EA (whom we cheer on from the very beginning, since his first performance in the Middle East as a yearling), owned by Al Saqran Stud, won the gold as expected, adding to his brilliant career one more title after being already the Triple Crown Colt winner in 2014 and Abu Dhabi Gold Champion Stallion and the highest scored horse of the show in Dubai 2017, Gold Champion Stallion and the highest score of the show at the All Nations Cup in Aachen this year, among others. Now he is also Gold Champion Stallion and the highest scored horse of the show of Verona 2017. He took the podium before Lawrence El Gazal, silver and Mansour Al Jalawiyah (Emerald J – Gypsy Love NA/Ever After NA), owned by Al Salam Stud, bronze. A Top Five title went to the Polish Kabsztad.
Poland has no reason to be ashamed. On the contrary – Polish horses showed up in large numbers, went against tough competition and though they left with just one medal the exhibitors still have a right to be proud. Pustynia Kahila is a young mare and will bring fame to Polish breeding many times and the color of this medal will not halt her show career.
Nesj El Markhisa is without any doubt a great mare and she deserved to be between the medallists, maybe also as the gold champion as she has superb type and she did an amazing show as well. What seems to be incomprehensible is how two judges could give so high scores to Pustynia Kahila in the class and then to place her out of the top five in the finals. It is not the first time that the public doesn’t understand the judges’ decisions and the debate about the rules of the show is becoming wider. Of course it is not only about the judging. Victorious in the European Championships are horses representing the UAE (AJ Norah, AJ Radman) or those with non-European owners. Smaller European breeders are not only pushed out of Title shows, but also out of C-rank shows. Concern about the future of European breeding, as well as the future of shows with problems such as judging has been voiced by several breeders in the last “AHT Abroad” issue. „It is time to start thinking about the future of halter”, we read in the „The Fate of Halter” article. “Breeders and participants alike, complain about too much politics at shows”. Sabato Florio (Italy) when asked whether the results at shows reflect honest and fair judgment, answers: „No. Almost never”. Gregor Aymar (Germany) has no illusions: „I think integrity is a word for a big number of judges, which they don’t know”. Antonia Bautista (Spain) has announced that he is withdrawing from judging, because although he is just a beginning judge he cannot accept several things. Claudia Darius (Germany) admits: „We opened the door for all people to compete (…) I think we made a big mistake of opening it completely and not keeping a part of our European events for Europeans only, because we are the base”. And Christine Jamar says frankly: „I think there is a lot of politics going on and this is a shame”. „The first thing that the ECAHO should do is to try to kill this”, she adds.
“Our great concern is to have the significance of ECAHO rise, not fall”, sums up Krzysztof Poszepczyński. But is there a will to change in this organization? This is a subject for another article.
Full results: Arabian Essence